Locust House Variations, A Weekly Fiction Column by Adam Gnade, “Sleep In”

Sometimes being human is shit. It’s shit because of how we treat each other. It’s shit because of the way we carry our pain for years in silent anguish then dump it on those closest to us in order to hurt them. We feel bad and we want to make others feel that way too because we think it will soften our own pain. We destroy good things because of our greed and fear. We hold ourselves apart from those we love, and we vanish right when we’re needed most. There are answers to help you deal with all of that, but good luck finding them. I mean that in a sweet way. Like, “I wish you the best of luck in learning how to deal with people.” Not in a jaded, hard, spiteful way. Don’t be like that. Never close yourself off because you closing yourself is not going to protect you like you think it is.

I watch those I love being hurt and I’m helpless. Maybe I’m not helpless, maybe there’s something I can do, but for the most part I can’t even begin to make a plan. I guess I should say I “feel” helpless. I feel helpless. You feel helpless. We feel helpless. Look at us! Helpless like baby birds floating down a raging creek on a piece of driftwood. How nice. It’s part of the human condition and it’s one of the parts I love least. The truth is most problems besides the very serious have solutions. What you need to do is find the answers to your questions. Better yet, you need to find the questions. Often, I don’t know the questions I need to ask in order to get the answers I want.

It rained all morning today and I slept in. Slept in as the rain fell and slept in as the morning hours ticked by. By 11 I was out of bed and the farmhouse was dark from the storm, the windows like paintings where the only colors are dark green and black and a smear of soft, tawny yellow. Lovely paintings. Better than you could make with a brush. But you try, right? You try to do something that good. You try to navigate the tornado while reaching for questions and answers as they fly past your face like cars with their doors flung open and a scatter of bricks from a chimney and ripped-out trees, their branches lashing like frantic arms. Then sometimes you sleep in. You sleep in and you don’t get up until you’re ready to get up. This is neither a question nor an answer. It’s just life and how we deal with it and how sometimes we don’t. –Adam Gnade